‘PH needs agency for marine management,’ PH scientists call

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The National Marine Summit 2019 forum at Manila Hotel, October 29.

The National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) said its hope for the creation of a department that would manage the Philippines’ marine environment. 

On Tuesday, the science and researchers from NAST, along with the other academe, organization, and expert stakeholders gathered at the Manila Hotel for the National Marine Summit 2019 forum. 

“We don’t have an agency, a department focused on the oceans. So the coasts and the oceans are only a part of DOST (Department of Science and Technology), only a part of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), [and] only a part of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources,” NAST president Rhodora Azanzan said in a release.

NAST is under the DOST and is considered as the highest recognition and scientific advisory body in the country. 

Azanzan also mentioned that various agencies have different functions, so NAST hopes that in the future, a separate management would be created for the marine environment solely. 

The proposal would be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte’s office, said Chairperson Merle Jimenez-San Pedro of Movement for Maritime Philippines (MMP). 

‘Blessed resources but neglected’

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Sugba Lagoon in Siargao island, Philippines | Image credit: Kristin, Be My Travel Muse blog

The country has not been able to make the most of its marine resources, stated Undersecretary Jose Luis Alano, the executive director of the National Coast Watch Council. 

“Indeed, the Philippines is blessed with beautiful islands. However, ironically, the development of the sustainable use and management of the country’s marine assets are largely being neglected,” Alano said.

From 2012 to 2018, the share of ocean-based industries in domestic product at current prices decreased. The data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the share became 3.6% in 2018 from the 4.3% in 2012. 

PSA listed ocean-based industries—ocean fishing, off-shore and coastal mining and quarrying, manufacture of ocean-based products, coastal construction ocean-based power generation, sea-based transportation and storage, marine insurance, marine renting and business activities, maritime safety, surveillance and resource management, maritime education, coastal hotels, and recreation.

Ocean fishing makes up the largest share of value of ocean-based industries to the “Ocean Economy” with 29.1%. 

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